CLEANUP DRIVE: Volunteers and personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Manila Department of Public Services join a cleanup drive to clear the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach of garbage washed up by waves on Sunday (July 31, 2022). The Dolomite Beach is the newest attraction initiated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as part of its Manila Bay rehabilitation program.  (MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug  1 (Mabuhay) — Anyone can get infected with monkeypox through close intimate contact, an infectious disease expert warned Monday.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week found that 98 percent of those infected with monkeypox were gay or bisexual men, and 95 percent of cases were transmitted through sexual activity.

“It’s safe to say anybody who has close intimate contact with a person having monkeypox then you have high risk of getting the infection,” Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of adult infectious diseases at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, said..

“This is an infection that everybody or anyone is at risk, it just so happened at this point in time this outbreak has occurred in this group of population.”

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Solante warned against improper labeling of the disease as it can lead to stigmatization and discrimination.

“We just have to advise that who had these lesions, anybody can get the infection regardless of what risk group are you and the important message there is anybody is at risk of monkeypox,” he said.

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and then followed by skin lesions.

“These lesions may not totally look like chickenpox, most have very few lesions, less than 10 or 20, unlike in chickenpox or smallpox it usually spreads all over the body,” he said.

“There are also symptoms like tonsillitis, oral lesions which are not common with monkeypox in the past.”

The disease is self-limiting “most of the time,” lasting 2 to 3 weeks, according so Solante.

“When you have skin lesions you have to isolate already,” he said.

The disease has a “very low fatality rate,” Solante added. Out of 22,000 recorded cases worldwide, there were around 7 deaths, he said.

“Most deaths are immunocompromised and are HIV positive and not taking anti-retroviral agent,” he said.

The Philippines last week confirmed its first monkeypox case in a 31-year-old patient with travel history to countries with recorded infections.

It is important for government to procure vaccines and give these to the highly vulnerable, according to Solante.

“It’s not intended for the general population, only a selected group of population, those who are exposed to monkeypox and are high risk for infections,” he said.

“The current recommendation is those who are exposed to monkeypox infection, those who are high risk meaning those in possible contact with multiple sexual partner behavior.” (MNS)

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